Mr Röttgen, what is lost in Afghanistan in a matter of days what the Bundeswehr and Western aid have built up over the decades?
This drama is looming. It’s not that far yet. It is up to us, out of responsibility for our own security and out of responsibility for the Afghan majority, to stop this development. The American President Joe Biden now has it in his hands to get the first major foreign policy disaster that arose from his wrong decision to order the rapid withdrawal of American troops without consulting the Allies.
That means he would have to revise the decision about the withdrawal?
This means that the Taliban must be prevented from conquering the important cities in the country and possibly Kabul by autumn, when the winter weather sets in. It has always been clear that the Taliban can establish themselves in rural areas and hold them there. But if bigger places now fall into the hands of the Taliban, there is a risk that they will conquer the whole country and there is no longer any prospect of a politically inclusive solution for Afghanistan.
But that would only save time over the next winter?
This would make it clear to the Taliban that they would not succeed in seizing power militarily alone against the will of the Afghan majority, especially the non-Pashtun population groups, and against the will of the international community. The Taliban have been given the opportunity to participate in a political solution for the future of Afghanistan. It must now not be allowed that they create militarily one-sided facts.
In your opinion, does the Bundeswehr also have to take part in a military intervention to stop the Taliban?
I think that follows from our own dismay. If the Islamist terrorist network Al-Qaida regains a foothold in Afghanistan in conjunction with the Taliban, then our security in Europe may be even more threatened than that of the United States. Our responsibility also stems from the fact that we should not allow the results of our reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan to be undone after twenty years. So if there are military capabilities of the Europeans, including the Germans, that are needed now, then we should make them available. At the moment, the main concern is evidently to stop the Taliban’s advance by means of air strikes, which the Americans have already begun to do.